From December 26, 2012 through March 25 of this year, there have been 61 residential burglaries in the surrounding neighborhoods of Fargo South High School. Thirty-four of those 61 either took place at night, involved an injury to a victim, involved an armed intruder, or a combination of those three factors. This is a good time to talk about home safety and protecting your property.
When you look at the crimes of burglary and theft, consider that they are committed simply because of opportunity. That’s not to say that all of these crimes are that way, but taking steps to limit or remove that opportunity can greatly reduce your chances of being a victim of a crime like this.
Here are some steps you can take to increase safety for you, your family and your property. If you live in a house, ensure all your doors have dead bolt locks. The best scenario is to have screen doors with windows that also have a lock. That way, if a burglar was going to attempt to enter through the door, they (1) would have to get through two doors and a window, which (2) increases their difficulty of obtaining access and (3) decreases their ability to be quiet. Ensure that all of your windows have locking mechanisms as well.
Here are some additional measures:
- Ensure all patio doors have a lock.
- Have a wooden dowel to place on the inside of the sliding door track.
- Motion lights are an excellent deterrent. They are an inexpensive and effective alarm system.
- Ensure garages with side entrances also have deadbolts.
- Install an inside manual sliding lock into the overhead garage door track, even if you have an automatic garage door opener. They are good for the end of the day or when you leave town.
- Even when your car is in the garage, lock the doors. It only takes a second, and makes it harder for any intruder to gain entry into the vehicle quietly.
- If you can get a hold of it, place signage around your home advertising an alarm company – small yard signs or stickers – even if you don’t have an alarm system. Although it’s a bluff, if you were a potential burglar, would it make you think twice before attempting to enter?
- Never “hide” a house key in a place where someone watching can easily figure out what you have hidden there.
- Never let anyone know where your hidden emergency key is, even a friend. It’s meant for you.
- If you have a dog, never scold the dog for barking when someone comes to the door or is walking by. Dogs, little or small, are alarms on four legs. It’s their nature to announce an intruder in their area, or near their pack.
- Never leave out garbage that tells someone about the new purchase you just made.
Take some time to walk around your house and assess your own situation. In order to prevent or reduce your chance of becoming a victim, sometimes you have to think like a criminal. Like water, burglars and thieves will often times take the path of least resistance, or one that gives them the quickest entry and exit.
If you live in an apartment:
- Encourage your landlord to have security plates placed over the entrance doors, so a knife cannot be used to access the building.
- Ensure you have a deadbolt lock to your apartment and use it each time you leave.
- If you live on the ground floor and have a patio, again, place a wooden dowel in the sliding door track, and ask management that a screen door be installed if you don’t have one.
For vehicles, it’s pretty simple. Keep doors locked and windows rolled up. Don’t leave items out in plain view. Park in well-lit areas when leaving your vehicle unattended for long periods of time. Again, if you can find one, placing some sort of sticker indicating an alarm system is present is a cheap and effective deterrent. If you have the money, the products that lock your steering wheel such as “The Club” are also extremely effective.
Fargo is still an extremely safe place to live compared to many other parts of the country. However, we are growing, and with growth, come growing pains. Take a little extra time to safeguard your residence and property now. Practice good safety habits. You’ll save yourself trouble in the future.
(Wes Libner is the School Resource Officer at South High School. He can be reached at Wes.Libner@fargo.k12.nd.us.)